4-5 year old children have been reported to show non-adultlike behavior for sentences like:
(1) John bumped Mary after PRO tripping on the sidewalk
In (1), PRO is bound by the main clause subject (John), but children have been reported to allow object interpretations of PRO. One possible explanation for children's non-adultlike interpretations is that they treat PRO as a silent pronoun (like pro), similar to the overt pronoun in:
(2) John bumped Bill after he tripped on the sidewalk
In (2), the pronoun "he" can be interpreted as either "John" or "Bill," although adults have been reported to prefer a subject interpretation. If children do not make a distinction between the pronoun in (2) and PRO in (1), then they should exhibit the same behavior for both sentence types in a truth value judgement task with the same materials for both sentences.
In this meeting, I'll discuss some new data suggesting that children treat (1) and (2) differently, as well as a new design to investigate the role of temporal processing load for sentences like (1).